Blessing or Curse?

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34 NIV

She handed me a list of classes placed into blocks that would potentially make up next year’s schedule for ninth grade. Proudly she announced she was recommended to take Human Geography, an Advanced Placement (AP) course that she could test for college credit at the end of the year. She would still have to take the Social Science courses with which she was replacing, before she would graduate; but she didn’t mind because she was so excited to get a jump into the honors program by starting her first Advanced Placement class.

Highest Honors in our high school mandates six AP classes, while maintaining a minimal of 3.5 average. The highly promoted AP classes are put on a weighted scale, giving students who choose to take the more challenging classes an opportunity to stay in good ranking. Often the rigorous work load brings a higher risk of lower scores. It sounds like a great opportunity. However, we are finding through researching schools that my son is looking to attend, some universities are not accepting the weighted scales for grade point averages; plus, if a student gets the opportunity to cross state lines for college, AP classes even with the passed exam are not being accepted for college credit by many universities and private colleges.  Knowing the exit exams for college credit are very difficult, making it hard to actually receive the credit, these three questions arise:

  1. Is this extra work load actually beneficial for my child?
  2. How will this affect the balance of her schedule with her other courses and extra-curricular activities?
  3. Whose expectations are we trying to meet? (i.e. school administration, my daughter’s, mine, future colleges, or God’s)

I still don’t have the answer to these questions. I just know we have to ask them to help us determine if my teen is ready for this route. The opportunity between our kids stretching to see how far they can go compared to creating a life in the trap of stress and an unmanageable work load is so fine. But how do we encourage our teens to make these decisions responsibly when the presentations from our system are so attractively laid? We hear voices saying, “You are smart!” “You can do it all!” “Colleges want you to take the hardest work load!” “You have to do it all or you won’t get scholarships!” “If you are not at the top you are not good enough!” How quickly the messages of encouragement turn to desperate cries of fear.

There is one thing I have learned from making decisions in my own life and then living with the consequences: God is not in fear.

So where is God in this?

Scriptures, such as Matthew 6:34 cry out, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I always laugh when I read this scripture. It sounds so simple, but I often just don’t get what it means. I can picture God giggling too at how complicated and convoluted I tend to make things. Then the music starts in my head. I always hear the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin playing in the background. “Here’s a little song I wrote, you might want to sing it note for note. Don’t worry. Be happy.”

Don’t worry! If only “worry” were a switch I could just flip from “worry” to “not worry.”

Hmm… ”not worry”. What in the world is “not worry?” What are the three questions God is asking me about “not worry” from this scripture?

  1. Do you trust me?
  2. Do you trust me?
  3. Do you trust me?

The scripture doesn’t say my daughter and I are going to sit still and not take action, like not analyzing her schedule or even quickly deciding not to take challenging classes to eliminate the work load completely. The placement of this verse in scripture helps with discerning what to do to eliminate worry. Jesus says this scripture at the end of a lesson on prayer and God’s provision. So we are to pray first, trusting that scripture is true; next we trust again that God will do what he says He will do- which is provide. So Jesus is asking me to pray with my daughter about her schedule, trust in His guidance, trust in His provision and trust in His plan for her life. Then use the information we have been given, examine her reasons for the course load (and mine), as well as, her passions against the fullness of her workload (including extra-curricular activities) to make a decision. If the schedule works we give thanks and progress forward. If it doesn’t give thanks and pray more with making changes. Either way, God has my child in His hands and I do trust Him to present us with the best option.

As parents, my husband and I want the best for our children. It is easy to become caught up in titles and awards, as well as, the bragging rights to the plethora of activities out there for our children. However, as followers of Christ, we are to look at a plan far better than the list of accolades and the threats of stress wounds. God’s plan allows for provision in a future we can’t see on a path that provides freedom from worry and fear. We are to pray, trust, and surrender as our children grow into the passions of purpose planted by our creator.

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